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Porsche 911 History

1965 Porsche 911 Road Test

As with every 356 evolution, the Porsche 911 garnered mixed initial reactions from confirmed Porschephiles, though most soon grew to accept it and, inevitably, respect it.

Press response was enthusiastic. Gushed Car and Driver: "Race breeding and engineering development ooze from the 911's every pore. The whole package, especially the power-train, is designed to be more reliable and less difficult to service...Although the 911 costs a lot less than the Carrera [about $6,500 in 1965] -- and a lot less than the [356] C and SC -- it's worth the price of all the old Porsches put together. More importantly, the 911's appeal should be considerably wider than the earlier models..."

Porsche 911
Strong demand for the Porsche 911 taxed labor-intensive production methods.

A bigger surprise was the glowing February 1966 assessment by Denis Jenkinson in Britain's Motor Sport. A veteran Porsche driver, but never one to mince words (even at the expense of advertising revenue), "Jenks" declared the 911 "the best car Porsche have yet built for normal road use [and] one of the best cars I have ever driven."

Like so many after him, Jenks faced a dashboard dominated by an elliptical binnacle housing five circular gauges, the largest of which was a tachometer mounted dead-center. To its left were dials for fuel/oil levels and oil pressure/temperature; the speedo and electric clock sat to the tach's right.

Below this cluster, a strip of genuine teak presented various knobs and switches. A molded crash pad stretched across the dashtop, and the usual shapely bucket seats offered Reutter's "stepless" backrest recliner adjustment.

Yet all this left Jenkinson unmoved: "Driving quietly away, [the] lack of character was even more noticeable, so that seasoned Porsche owners commented that it was all right, but hardly a Porsche."

Jenks found the car's "character" when he flogged it: "Out into the open country, the whole car immediately became alive...The more I drove it and the harder I made it work, the more Porsche-like it became." Helping to solidify his impression - literally -- was the usual "all-of-a-piece" Porsche driving feel regardless of surface or speed.

"The whole car [seems] indestructible, coupled with suspension, ride, road-holding, steering, braking and general good manners that are truly modern, and the nearest to perfection that production cars have yet reached...Why don't all manufacturers make cars like this?"

Supply was Porsche's biggest early problem with the 911, as demand was strong from day one. A mid-1963 purchase of Reutter assured better quality but did nothing to increase production capacity. Accordingly, Porsche soon contracted with the Wilhelm Karmann works for additional bodies.

But that effectively ended production of the 356C (in September 1965, by which time it was being sold only in the United States), so Porsche decided to fill the gap with a four-cylinder 911, the 912 (again, the project number was 10 digits below the type designation in actual order).

Both 911 and 912 bowed "officially" in late 1964, when a Porsche representative said he feared that new-model announcements were becoming a habit at Zuffenhausen: "We just had one 15 years ago."

The Porsche 911s went on sale in the United States in early 1965, for model-year '66; the first 912s arrived in June, two months behind initial European deliveries.

Porsche 912
The Porsche 912 was the four-cylinder companion to the 911.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356
Porsche 911
Porsche 914
Porsche 924, 944, 968
Porsche 928 Porsche 959
Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayman

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

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  • 2007 Porsche 911
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  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911